The Words of the Kijime Family
Toshinichi and Joanne Kijime
Toshinichi Kijime met the Unification Church in March of 1983 in Nagoya, Japan. He joined the witnessing department and later served in fundraising activities. After one-and-a-half years he came to America and then was matched to Joanne Potvin in 1987. On November 13, 1988 at 3:00 a.m., Kijime was driving home from fund-raising in North Carolina and was struck by a drunk driver.
I came to know this couple in February of 1989 when my department leader asked me to visit them. Their bright, loving spirit and victorious faith impelled me to write their testimony.
A few months before the accident, Kijime had been praying to comfort brothers and sisters who had sacrificed their lives for True Parents. He had talked by phone to Joanne about this. The day of the accident, Joanne received a phone call from the hospital at 3:00 p.m. and arrived there the next morning. The doctors explained that Kijime could die anytime, at any moment, without warning. The neurosurgeons said his life depended on his desire to live, which was between him and God. If he lived he could be a vegetable. He had braked and swerved to avoid the other car but they had connected head-on. The drunk driver was in a truck and Kijime was in a Hyundai. His car literally folded into him. The steering wheel punctured him, breaking some ribs and minor bones. Several organs in the stomach area were damaged as well as his hip bone dislocated. The impact also caused severe injury to his brain. A blood vessel burst in the left hemisphere causing complete paralysis of the right side of his body and aphasia, a loss of control of his speech and vocabulary.
He was rushed by helicopter to the nearest trauma center to have immediate emergency surgery. Joanne explained that his head and face were swollen so that he was unrecognizable. Though he was unconscious, he still recognized her spiritually when she entered the room. In the beginning, his eyes were swollen shut. Each day she sang holy songs, read Divine Principle and massaged his feet. It was the only thing she could think of to do. Brain surgery to remove a blood clot was a success but doctors said there was no way to know what he would be like and to prepare for anything. Joanne prayed if he would be a vegetable that Heavenly Father let him go to spirit world. But he made it. When he woke up his eyes were dull and blank. She was scared. Day by day, song after song, his eyes became bright again. His cognition is altered and it takes time to discover exactly what was lost and what can be healed. He always tries so hard, always smiling with hope in his eyes. Joanne said she takes care of him externally but he takes care of her internally by being so calm and supportive and consistent.
Clearly, there is an incredible example of dedication and determination in this couple. As a result, our brother's speech is gradually returning as well as his movement. He graduated from a wheel chair to crutches and now begins to slowly walk with his cane. His speech has advanced to words and now short sentences. Nurses and doctors praised him as the fastest recovering patient in the rehabilitation center. It is all thanks to sheer determination and the miraculous grace of God. Kijime's and Joanne's relationship is a beautiful witness to harmony. She is determined to build a God-centered family out of her situation. She has told me that she never thought she could love someone so much. From this experience she has found a deep well of heartistic blessings. She exemplifies a very loyal heart to True Parents and her husband. Kijime has a very pure, childlike heart yet courageous faith. Experiencing Kijime's heart is a confirmation of the truth that the most essential, eternal values, the values that God has longed for in man, are the values of the heart.
Kijime's doctors have said that the couple will need to do therapy at home for the rest of their lives. Certainly, Kijime's life and survival testify to the strengthened will gained from knowing the Divine Principle and to the merits of heart we receive from True Parents. If anyone would like to communicate to this couple I'm sure they would be overjoyed.
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Let's be grateful for whatever our situations are and support each other. God bless you.